Introducing places of interest: Oze National Park
The following locations constitute places of interest to be found in Oze National Park. In order to avoid the crowds, we suggest that you arrive on a weekday to be able to enjoy the natural environment in the Oze area at a leisurely pace.
The largest alpine marshland in Japan (approximately 650 hectares in area), Ozegahara is highly representative of the Oze area. Wood-plank walking trails have been built throughout this marsh to be used by visitors.
Some of the highlights of this location are the skunk cabbage plants in the middle of May, Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta (daylilies) plants in the middle of July, and the fall foliage in October. Since a variety of colorful flowering plants blossom according to the season, diverse landscape views can be enjoyed by visiting at different times of the year.
Designated a Special Protection Zone within Oze National Park, Ozenuma Pond can be accessed in about one hour on foot from the Numayama Pass and is an ideal spot from where the Oze area can be enjoyed with casual ease. Visitors can be treated to views of a magnificent landscape comprising Ozenuma Pond and Mt. Hiuchigatake and spot various species of wetland vegetation — including Eriophorum vaginatum L., Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta (daylilies), and Gentiana thunbergii (G. Don) Griseb. f. minor (Maxim.) — growing in the Oe Marsh.
Situated to the west of Ozegahara, Mt. Shibutsu (2,228 meters above sea level) has been designated a Special Protection Zone within Oze National Park. The upper part of this peak consists of serpentine rocks while the lower part consists of granite.
Visitors to Mt. Shibutsu can take in the sights of Oyamazawa-Tashiro by the summit of Mt. Koshibutsu (2,162 meters above sea level), Ozegahara from the summit of Mt. Shibutsu, and unique species of flora that originate in serpentine rocks.
Since the serpentine rocks constitute ultrabasic rocks containing significant amounts of magnesium and iron, plants that are distinctive to a serpentine rock environment can be found on Mt. Shibutsu.
Visitors can spot the eponymously named Japonolirion osense and other examples of serpentine rock-relic flora species that are endemic to serpentine zones where it is difficult for other species of vegetation to encroach upon as well as the eponymously named Allium schoenoprasum L. var. shibutuense Kitam and other examples of serpentine rock-evolved flora species that have evolved to adapt to a serpentine rock environment.
In order to protect these alpine plants, all mountaineering trails leading to Mt. Shibutsu are closed between May 11 and June 30 of each year.
Rising 2,356 meters above sea level, Mt. Hiuchigatake is the highest peak in all areas of Japan from the Tohoku region to the northernmost point of the country and constitutes an adesite-type strato-volcano created as a result of an eruption that occurred about 350,000 years ago. Different sections of this mountain have been designated a Special Protection Zone or a Class Ⅰ or Ⅱ Special Zone of Oze National Park.
According to the Meteorological Agency, an active volcano refers to a volcano for which there is evidence of an eruption occurring within the last approximately 10,000 years. Given the presence of indications that a phreatic explosion occurred about 500 years ago, Mt. Hiuchigatake is considered an active volcano.
Mt. Hiuchigatake consists of five large peaks: Shibayasugura, the tallest peak of this group; as well as Manaitagura; Minobuchi-dake; Akanagure-dake; and Miike-dake. The summit of Manaitagura (2,346 meters above sea level) overlooks Ozenuma Pond. This vantage point affords a spectacular view of the Oze area.
From Manaitagura, climbers can descend once and ascend again to access the summit of the adjoining peak, Shibayasugura, whose summit is the highest point on Mt. Hiuchigatake. This summit too commands an excellent view and gives climbers a chance to see both Ozenuma Pond and Ozegahara on clear days.
The form of Mt. Hiuchigatake as seen from Hinoemata Village and elsewhere can only be described as exquisitely beautiful and should not be missed.
During periods when there is lingering snow on the ground, the snow still remaining on the face of the mountain forms an X-shaped pattern. The resemblance of this pattern to a hiuchibasami tool accounts for the name of this peak. This hiuchibasami pattern can be viewed from Hinoemata Village at the foot of the mountain or from the summit of Mt. Taishaku.
[A pond located on Mt. Chumon-dake]
Rising 2,133 meters above sea level, Mt. Aizukomagadake is a famous peak situated in the Minami-Aizu area. Alpine plants can be found between its summit and Mt. Chumon-dake. Different sections of this mountain have been designated a Special Protection Zone or a Class Ⅰ, Ⅱ, or Ⅲ Special Zone of Oze National Park.
There are three mountaineering routes that can be negotiated on this mountain: the Takizawa Route and the Kirinte Route from Hinoemata Village and a route that traces a path from Miike through the mountain ridge to the summit.
The two routes that start in Hinoemata Village go through various forest zones corresponding to elevation, with a Quercus crispula Blume (oak) zone near the bottom, followed by—in succession—a beech zone, Maries' fir zone, and gold birch zone. These routes allow climbers to explore forests that lead to the presence of alpine plants right below the ridgeline of the mountain.
The route that begins in Miike is a popular way to enjoy a tranquil alpine trip since it gives climbers a chance to follow a graceful mountain ridgeline while gazing out at the Okutadami area and the Taisaku mountain range.
The highlight of each of these routes is the alpine wetland existing along the ridgeline leading to Mt. Chumon-dake once you go beyond the summit of Mt. Aizukomagadake. Designated a Special Protection Zone of Oze National Park, this area boasts a gold birch and Maries' fir forest growing partway up the side of Mt. Aizukomagadake to form a spectacular alpine landscape that can only be obtained in areas of heavy snowfall accumulation.
Mt. Tashiro and Mt. Taishaku
(photo provided by: Minamiaizu Town)]
Constituting a group of mountains situated in the northeast corner of the Oze area, Mt. Tashiro and Mt. Taishaku are famous for the colonies of Pteridophyllum racemosum plants that grow here and the wetland at the summit of Mt. Tashiro. Different sections of these mountains have been designated a Special Protection Zone or a ClassⅠ or Ⅱ Special Zone of Oze National Park.
Cars can be driven up to the Umasaka Pass where the starting point for climbs up Mt. Taishaku is located. To climb up Mt. Tashiro, you can pass through the summit of Mt. Taishaku or arrive by car at the Sarukura starting point for climbs and proceed from that point on foot. In either case, you will be taking a slightly steep mountaineering trail to arrive at Mt. Tashiro.
Visitors can marvel at the sight of colonies of Pteridophyllum racemosum plants growing on the forest floor by the mountaineering trail leading from the Umasaka Pass to Mt. Tashiro as well as enjoy the view from the summit of Mt. Taishaku (2,060 meters above sea level) and explore the wetland on Mt. Tashiro.
Pteridophyllum racemosum plants are ideally seen between the end of June and the middle of July when their white blossoming flowers blanket the forest floor in an amazing spectacle of natural beauty.
As you continue climbing while admiring these colonies of Pteridophyllum racemosum plants, you will soon reach the summit of Mt. Taishaku. From this vantage point, you can behold Mt. Aizukomagadake, Mt. Hiuchigatake, Mt. Shibutsu, Mt. Nikko-Shirane, Mt. Nantai, and many other peaks situated in Fukushima, Gunma, and Tochigi prefectures.
Travel further east for another hour and a half by descending Mt. Taishaku and ascending once again to arrive at the summit of Mt. Tashiro.
At this location, you will come across a beautiful expanse of wetland that has been designated a Special Protection Zone of Oze National Park. Positioned at about the same elevation as Kumazawa-Tashiro in Oze (1,971 meters above sea level), the same types of flora as those found in Kumazawa-Tashiro also grow here. These species include Schizocodon soldanelloides, Gentiana thunbergii (G. Don) Griseb. var. minor Maxim, and bog rosemary plants. Hordes of red dragonflies spend the summer in these parts while visitors may be enchanted by the unusual singing of local forest green tree frogs.